Tag Archives: poem

Biodiversity challenge – Archerfish

Shoot from the lip

High and dry spider
Soon to be supper,
Oblivious to the banded bowman,
The artful dislodger.
Lurking in the murky water
Underneath, the archer
Plots aquatic ambush:
Spitting distance;
Angle of refraction;
Up a fraction;
Action!
Cue the liquid thunderbolt,
The lightning flèche.
Target skewered,
Stupefied and swallowed;
Downed in one,
And down in one.
Gobbing, gobbling, gone;
The inscrutable archerfish
Shoots, eats and leaves.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Biodiversity challenge – Zino’s petrel

Running out of Zinos petrel

Dwindling
On a mountain ledge;
Precarious,
Closer to the edge.

Raining cats and rats,
And fire.
Stormy weather,
Outlook dire.

Warning light
Flashing red;
Petrel crisis
Dead ahead.

From haunting cries
To silent sorrow;
Madeira today,
Gone tomorrow.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Species profile: Zino’s petrel

IUCN Red List Category: Endangered

Endemic to the island of Madeira, this species is arguably the most threatened seabird in Europe, with an estimated population of around 100 mature birds. Breeding is believed to be confined to half a dozen cliff ledges. In 2010 a forest fire swept through the colony, killing 65% of all the chicks. The young birds that escaped being incinerated in their burrows virtually all succumbed to starvation and predation, and only one bird fledged successfully. Ongoing threats to survival include invasive black rats, which predate eggs and chicks, and feral cats, which kill adult birds. More info

Putting the verse into biodiversity

Wild animals have inspired some great poetry. Think William Blake’s The Tyger, Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Eagle, or The Jaguar by Ted Hughes; iconic poems that glorify some of the world’s most iconic wildlife. But what about all the less familiar, unloved, unprepossessing species that go largely unnoticed and uncelebrated? As long as our literary giants are preoccupied with crafting immortal lines about our most charismatic megafauna, there’s an obvious gap in the market for an intellectual pygmy to write bad verse about obscure animals and plants. Forget Ode to a Nightingale. It’s time to put the ode in nematode. With an estimated 8.7 million species on the planet, there may not be time to do them all justice, but let’s see how we go. It’s unlikely to be a daily posting once my existing supply runs dry – even a prolific wordsmith like Stephen Fry would consider that, as he might say, an enjambment too far. Entries will be a mixture of cursory rhymes (for those with busy lives) and long poems (for those with too much time on their hands). Species will appear randomly, rather than in alphabetical order, otherwise we’ll never make it to ‘zorilla’, and it would be a crying shame not to feature an animal that sounds like a cross between a zebra and a great ape. Stay tuned for Biodiversity Challenge